Manchester, deputy organist, and on March 25, 1848, organist. Harris composed some cathedral music and a few glees, songs, etc. He died at Manchester, Feb. 10, 1869.
HARRIS, Joseph Macdonald
, was born in 1789, and at an early age became a chorister of Westminster Abbey under Richard Guise. On quitting the choir on the breaking of his voice, he became a pupil of Robert Cooke, then organist of the Abbey. Harris was employed as a teacher, and occasional conductor at minor concerts. His compositions are songs, duets, trios, and pianoforte pieces. He died in May 1860, aged 71.
HARRIS, René, or Renatus, is the most celebrated member of this family of English organ builders. His grandfather had built an organ for Magdalen College, Oxford; but his father, Thomas, appears to have emigrated to France, for Dr. Burney says that Renatus came to England with his father a few months after Father Smith's arrival (1660). To Smith, Renatus Harris became a formidable rival, especially in the competition for building an organ in the Temple Church. [Schmidt, Bernard.] [App. p.668 corrects link to Smith, Father.]
Thomas Harris of New Sarum in 1666 contracted to build an organ for Worcester Cathedral. Renatus Harris in 1690 agreed to improve and enlarge his grandfather's organ in Magdalen College, Oxford. Dr. Rimbault gives a list of 39 organs built by this eminent artist. He had two sons—Renatus, jun., who built an organ for St. Dionis Backchurch, London, in 1724, and John, who built most of his organs in conjunction with his son-in-law, John Byfield.
The firm of Harris (John) & Byfield (John)
carried on business in Red Lion St., Holborn. In 1729 they built an organ for Shrewsbury, and in 1740 one for Doncaster, which cost £525, besides several others.
, born at Belper, Derbyshire, Sept. 8, 1760. He received his musical education from Burton, a well-known bass chorus singer, probably the same whose nervous system was so powerfully affected by the music on the first day of the Commemoration of Handel, in 1784, as to occasion his death in the course of a few hours. On the establishment of the Concert of Ancient Music in 1776, Harrison appeared as a solo soprano singer, and continued so for two years afterwards. But in 1778, being engaged to sing at Gloucester, his voice suddenly failed him. After an interval of six years, during which he most assiduously cultivated his voice and style, George III. heard him sing at one of Queen Charlotte's musical parties, and caused him to be engaged for the Commemoration of Handel in 1784, at which he sang 'Rend' il sereno al ciglio' from 'Sosarme,' and the opening recitative and air in 'Messiah.' He was next engaged as principal tenor at the Concert of Ancient Music, and from that time took his place at the head of his profession as a concert singer. Harrison's voice had a compass of two octaves (A to A). It was remarkably sweet, pure and even in tone, but deficient in power. His taste and judgment were of a high order, and in the cantabile style he had no equal. Compelled by the exigences of his engagements to sing songs which demanded greater physical power than he possessed, he always sang them reluctantly. On Dec. 6, 1790, Harrison married Miss Cantelo, for some years principal second soprano at all the best concerts, etc. In 1791 he and Knyvett established the Vocal Concerts, which were carried on to the end of 1794, and revived in 1801. Harrison's last appearance in public was at his benefit concert, May 8, 1812, when he sang Pepusch's 'Alexis,' and Handel's 'Gentle airs.' On June 25 following, a sudden inflammation carried him off. He was buried in the graveyard of the old church of St. Pancras. The inscription on his tombstone includes an extract from an elegiac ode on Harrison, written by Rev. Thomas Beaumont, and set to music by William Horsley, but the lines are so inaccurately given as completely to mar the allusion to the song, 'Gentle airs.' Mrs. Harrison survived her husband 19 years.
, born in Marylebone parish, 1813. Being gifted with a tenor voice of remarkable purity and sweetness, he appeared in public as an amateur concert singer early in 1836. He then entered as a pupil at the Royal Academy of Music, and in 1837 appeared as a professional singer at the concerts of the Academy, and subsequently at the Sacred Harmonic Society. On Thursday, May 2, 1839, he made his first appearance on the stage at Covent Garden, in Rooke's opera, 'Henrique.' A few years later he was engaged at Drury Lane, where he sustained the principal tenor parts in Balfe's 'Bohemian Girl,' Wallace's 'Maritana,' and Benedict's 'Brides of Venice,' and 'Crusaders,' on their first production. In 1851 he performed at the Haymarket Theatre, in Mendelssohn's 'Son and Stranger,' and other operas. In 1856, in conjunction with Miss Louisa Pyne, he established an English Opera Company, and for several years gave performances at the Lyceum, Drury Lane, and Covent Garden Theatres. During their management the following new operas were produced: Balfe's 'Rose of Castille' 1857, 'Satanella' 1858, 'Bianca, the Bravo's Bride' 1860; 'Puritan's Daughter' 1861, and 'Armourer of Nantes,' 1863; Wallace's 'Lurline,' 1860, and 'Love's Triumph' 1862; Benedict's 'Lily of Killarney' 1862; Mellon's 'Victorine' 1859; and Howard Glover's 'Ruy Blas' 1861. In the winter of 1864 Harrison opened Her Majesty's Theatre for the performance of English operas. He translated Masses operetta, 'Les Noces de Jeannette,' and produced it at Covent Garden Theatre in Nov. 1860, under the title of 'Georgette's Wedding.' Harrison, in addition to his vocal qualifications, was an excellent actor. He died at his residence in Kentish Town, Nov. 9, 1868.
, born May 19, 1797, pupil of the Royal Academy of Music under Crotch.